Police found that huge payments for kebab meat did not add up
By Alex Watkins A MONEY laundering network that used a kebab meat supplier as a front company has been dismantled by the Guardia Civil with support from Europol.
Five people have been arrested and 15 others are under investigation in Alicante and Barcelona as part of operation ‘Doner Halal’.
A Europol spokesman informed that Guardia Civil officers at Barcelona-El Prat airport first started investigating weekly shipments of large quantities of money to Germany in 2015.
These ranged from €90,000 to €200,000 (and on occasion up to €300,000), and were justified to the airport authorities as payments from Spanish companies to a German company for kebab meat.
The investigation revealed that the Spanish companies did not even run real commercial activities, and the criminal organisation had built up a network of front companies for money laundering since 2012.
“It is possible that some companies were not even aware that their data was being used to justify false invoices,” he noted.
The Spanish authorities estimate that around €36 million has been transferred and laundered by the criminal network.
Europol has supported the investigation since 2017 by providing analytical and operational support, carrying out data analysis and cross match reporting.
The Guardia Civil blocked 36 bank accounts and financial products and 35 credit cards and seized five properties in Alicante province worth approximately €470,000.
“This investigation shows once again that criminal business is still largely done in cash,” explained Simon Riondet, head of financial intelligence at Europol.
“Professional money laundering syndicates offer cashcourier and compensation laundering services for illicit proceeds.”
Mr Riodet said operations such as this ‘reinforce the need to discontinue the production and circulation of €500 and €200 banknotes and set an EUwide framework for restricting or setting a common limit for cash payments’.
Terracotta Army on the move to Alicante?
Cash which was seized from the gang